A dentist who scared a woman into spending hundreds of pounds on her teeth has been suspended for 12 months.
Dr Muzzafar Zaman, of The Fresh Smile Clinic in High Street, Brighouse, appeared in front of the General Dental Council in London, where they found he ‘crossed the threshold of misconduct’.
The dentist faced 18 charges relating to 14 patients. Among the charges are that he claimed in May 2009 to a patient known as ‘patient A’ that the general state of her teeth was a matter of serious concern, if she did not do anything now, she would have false teeth forever and that her face would sag and sink inwards as all the gum shrinks back.
Members of the committee said: “In view of the serious nature of your misconduct, which included two findings of dishonesty in a clinical context, the Committee determined that it would be entirely inappropriate to conclude this case without taking any action or with a reprimand.”
The committee said they took into account his embarrassment and regret about the contents of the letters to ‘patients A and B’ but said they found that “it was his intention to mislead the patients into undertaking treatment that was over and above that which was required”.
They suspended him for 12 months and said it would give him the opportunity to reflect on his behaviour and address its outstanding concern in relation to his dishonesty.
The committee said it took into account the information it received regarding the previous fitness to practise finding against him in January 2007, when he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and was issued with an expression of disapproval, the case was of a different nature to the current one.
A committee will review the case at a resumed hearing to be held shortly before the end of the suspension when it will be considered what action to take in relation to his registration.
The committee heard evidence from ‘patient B’ and Mr Michael Erhlich, the dentist who subsequently treated the patient; and from Mrs Barbara Jones, the dentist who treated ‘patient A’. They also heard from three dental experts.
On May 13 and 19, 2009, Mr Zaman gave ‘patient A’ advice orally and in a letter setting out his assessment of her dental health and his recommendations. The letter featured bold red boxes and red text which highlighted a number of assertions and the treatment she needed, that the committee determined were inaccurate.
Mr Zaman who lives at Central Park, Halifax, accepted that the form and content of that letter were unprofessional, alarmist and misleading. The committee found that it was his intention to frighten and mislead ‘patient A’ and it was satisfied that he dishonestly intended to intimidate her into accepting treatment.
A review of his records following a referral by Calderdale Primary Care Trust to the General Dental Council revealed there were numerous deficiencies in Mr Zaman’s care and treatment of the following 12 patients, ‘patients C to N’.
Among them was failures in relation to prescriptions of antibiotics and inadequate description of teeth to be extracted, on a patient’s record card.
The committee told him that his conduct clearly fell short of the standards expected of a registered dental practitioner.
Members noted that he had made steps to remediate the clinical failings and address the concerns raised through extensive Continuing Professional Development and by implementing necessary changes at the practice. There has been no evidence to suggest he had lapsed since the poor clinical practice in the intervening years.